As a kid, you may have zipped across a neighbor’s back yard or over an indoor or outdoor area as a camp activity on a zip line. While it may have been a fun, exhilarating activity then, you now may be in the mood for an even more extreme experience. If so, you can look into professional zip line tours, such as Royal Gorge zip line vacation packages or similar adventures offered around the world. But before you go, here is a quick look about the history of zip lines and how they work.
Zip Line Origins
Traditionally, zip lines have been used for many, many years by people living in mountainous areas, such as the Himalayas and Alps, to transport themselves and their goods. In certain South American countries, such as Columbia, and other regions of the world, zip lines are still an important means of travel. Mountain climbers have also been known to use zip lines to quickly descend mountains for quite some time, but it is actually biologists that led to their current popularity as a means of touring and extreme sport. Wildlife biologists found the lines to be helpful in entering densely forested areas without causing excess disruption to the ecosystems below. In Costa Rica, people took this same idea and applied it to tourism for their rain forests. By using the zip lines, tourists can view the rain forests without being a nuisance, and can even appeal to thrill seekers at the same time. Since then, the trend of using zip lines as a means of touring an area has become widespread. It is thought that the United States alone has over 150 professional zip line courses available.
How Zip Lines Work
Zip lines work by employing the laws of gravity. One end of a cable, usually composed of steel, is attached at a point higher than the other end to create a slope. To be able to traverse this slope, a pulley is placed on the cable. The pulley will usually resemble a wheel with a grooved outer edge that fits upon the cable. As you move down the cable, the wheel turns, reducing friction for better speed. Attached to the cable is a harness or seat that allows a person or goods to ride upon the zip line.
But when you think about the fact that some of these zip lines can reach speeds of 35 to 55 mph or more, the sudden stop at the bottom suddenly becomes frightening to imagine. Luckily, most professional zip line systems will have a braking mechanism. This mechanism may be one that the rider has to activate themselves, or it may be as simple as having a slight upward slope at the bottom that causes the rider to slow down and eventually come to a complete stop. When looking into Royal Gorge zip line vacation packages or other professional zip line tours within the United States, you can rest easy knowing that these courses are regulated by the Professional Ropes Course Association (PRCA) and by the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).
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